The way we seek to make disciples of youth and children at Faith Journey is quite different than the approach used by most churches. Instead of using traditional programs such as Sunday School and AWANA, we seek to equip parents to train their kids to follow the Lord. There are two main reasons for this:
- In Scripture, we see that the responsibility for training children in the ways of the Lord is placed squarely on the shoulders of the parents.
- The results of parents delegating that responsibility to the church have not been good. Tragically, most kids raised in church leave the faith after graduating High School.
Philosophy of Youth Ministry
We believe we should have great expectations for our youth. They are held back by a society that has very low expectations for them. We expect much more from our youth because many of them have been born again and therefore are empowered by the gospel and the Holy Spirit and able to do “all things through Christ who strengthens [them]”. (Philippians 4:13).
The problem with the common youth ministry model:
The vast majority of today’s youth ministries are entertainment-driven rather than Bible-driven. Most youth ministries remain entertainment-driven because of the demands of parents. These parents demand programs whose highest priority is doing whatever it takes to keep the teens coming to their events. This usually results in appealing to the same fleshly nature that desires to be out going with the flow of popular youth culture.
The fruit of entertainment-driven youth ministry is tragic. Between 80 and 90% of teenagers are leaving the church after they graduate high school. Not only are most youth ministries failing to make disciples, they are making adults who walk away from the church as soon as they have the chance. And many of them never return. It’s undeniable that a massive overhaul of youth ministry in America is needed, yet it is not happening. Why? Because short-sighted parents continue to demand ministries that occupy their childrens’ time, keep them entertained, and keep them off the streets as much as possible. Their desire to minimize conflict in their family outweighs their desire to make disciples of their children, and, in many cases, tragedy ensues.
Under the authority of the church and parents, the youth ministry exists to assist parents in teaching and equiping teens to live exemplary lives, empowered by the gospel and the Spirit of Christ.
In this mission statement, there are three categories that drive all we should do as a youth ministry:
1) Pastor and Parent-driven: “Under the authority of the church and parents…”
Scripture places the responsibility on the parents to be the primary influencers in the spiritual growth of their children. Ephesians 6:4 states that parents are to
“…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
As pastors, we want to assist the parents in training, teaching and equipping teens to engage this world with a biblical perspective.
Even though our meetings target the teenager, our goal of parental equipping remains the same because we believe this is in keeping with scripture. So, at any one of our youth events, parents are encouraged to come and participate with their children. Parental involvement at every GX event is a high priority because it positions the parents to help their children apply the biblical teachings they receive at GX meetings and events.
2) Teaching driven: “…teach and equip teens”
Life is a classroom, and our textbook is the Bible. Our culture never ceases in its pursuit to shape the thinking of youth. They will daily face many unique temptations, and often these temptations are faced for the first time. Not only do we need to preach and teach Jesus Christ, but, we need to come alongside parents to teach our youth how the gospel informs and directs how we live.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
3) Gospel and Spirit-driven: “…empowered by the gospel and the Spirit”
The teen years are unique years in the Christian walk. In the teen years, youth are faced with new temptations and feelings that they haven’t faced before. Their own sinful nature finds a strong ally in the world, and therefore, these years are critical in helping young people avoid the lies of the world, and to pursue true life in Christ. Youth ministry is an evangelistic ministry because the teen years are a time when young people often intentionally choose to walk with the Lord. Therefore, the best thing we can do for our teens is to preach Christ, and to provoke them to follow Christ more passionately. We recognize that the starting place for true change is ONLY from a heart that has been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is from that converted heart that a teen can live worthy of the gospel. This heart that has been converted through the gospel is now empowered by the Holy Spirit. Teens, and all of us, need help understanding how we can change our sinful attitudes and habits. We will direct them again and again to their hearts as the control center of their lives. The Holy Spirit working through the gospel is more than powerful enough to change attitudes of the heart, which will then result in changes of outward behavior. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Youth Bible Study
Youth Bible Study is open to all 7th through 12th graders. They meet Sunday evenings from 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm at Faith Journey. Each time we meet we will spend some time fellowshipping, worshipping the Lord, studying HIs word, and praying together. Parents are always encouraged to attend with their teen.
Parents of the youth take turns providing a light snack, such as chips with dip, fruit and veggies, desert or other finger foods. Here’s the link to sign up: Youth Snack
It is exciting to see how God is working in our young people at Faith Journey. We trust that He will continue the work that He has started and we’re looking forward to your teen being a part of that.